Random Thoughts: March Madness Edition
I wonder what Joe Sebok was thinking when he tried to intimidate Jon Aguiar into ceasing his anti-UB tweets? "Nah... this won't backfire."
Barney Frank teamed with Republican Congressman John Campbell this week to introduce a new online gambling bill. The bill, known as the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (what a mouthful), is basically similar to HR 2267 which passed the House Financial Services Committee by a wide margin last July. That bill never made it to a House vote. The poker world seems to be pretty excited about this new Frank bill, but not as excited as they've been about previous bills introduced at the federal level. Maybe everyone is finally starting to realize that online gaming legislation at the federal level is wishful thinking.
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One of the game's most talented and likable young pros, Vivek Rajkumar, just reached his second consecutive WPT final table this week. Last month, he finished 2nd in the L.A. Poker Classic for a little under $1 million. He followed that up with a 4th place finish for $295,000 in the Bay 101 Shooting Star. In 2008, Rajkumar won the WPT Borgata Poker Open $1.4 million. He has about 40 times the amount of career earnings than anyone else on the India all-time winnings list at Hendon Mob.
The new wave in poker appears to be ultra-high buy-in tournaments. This year's Aussie Millions featured events with buy-ins of $100,000 and $250,000. Those events drew an impressive 38 and 20 players, respectively. Last week, Full Tilt announced the Onyx Cup, a new series of ultra high-stakes poker tournaments. The first series will be held in Vegas in May. It will feature five no-limit hold'em events with buy-ins ranging from $100,000 to $300,000. The championship event will be a $250,000 buy-in with $1 million being added to the prize pool. Participants in all tournaments will receive points towards the Onyx Cup Leaderboard. The winner will be presented with the Onyx Cup and a luxury sports car. Due to all the added value and exposure these events will receive, I think you can expect them to be very popular. This is the new trend in poker tournaments: ultra-nosebleed buy-ins. They are just starting to gain popularity but should grow much larger. If 38 people played in a minimally-hyped $100,000 event in Australia, I think you'll see fields of 100+ in some of these Onyx Cup events eventually which will create record prize pools.
The merger between bwin and Party Gaming, operators of Party Poker, is all but complete. The new company, bwin.party Digitial Entertainment plc, will be the largest online gambling company in the world. Their shares will be available on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BPTY. It will be interesting to see how the merger and bwin's possible sale of the OnGame network will impact the affected online poker rooms. Party Poker is currently the third largest online poker room according to PokerScout.com. The merger should help put them comfortably ahead of the iPoker Network which is currently in fourth place.
Through the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, a total of zero of the 5.9 million entrants on ESPN predicted all 32 of the first round games correctly. Just 19 entrants got 31 out of 32 right. People in the U.S. make a pretty big deal about how well they do on their bracket, but it's actually about the worst possible thing you could ever run hot at. It makes more sense to hope that you do poorly on your bracket and reserve your luck for something that might actually result in material gain. Because what do those lucky 19 people who only missed one game in the first round have to show for it? Absolutely nothing. Which is why they'll have to annoy everyone they encounter with the story of the one time they almost got the whole first round correct for the rest of their lives. That is their only prize. There are no women. There is no yacht. There are no TV appearances. There is only a story you get to annoy your friends with. Worst runhot ever!